Cancer rates underestimated
There is a an even larger disparity for cervical cancer among African-American women than originally thought, according to a January 2017 article in the journal, Cancer, published by the American Cancer Society.
In the study, author Anna L. Beavis, MD, MPH, and others wanted to determine the age-standardized and age-specific annual cervical cancer mortality rates in the U.S. after correcting for the prevalence of hysterectomy. Their goal was to evaluate age and race disparities.
“For black women, the corrected mortality rate was 10.1 per 100,000 (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.6-10.6), whereas the uncorrected rate was 5.7 per 100,000 (95% CI, 5.5-6.0),” the researchers wrote in the study. “The corrected rate for white women was 4.7 per 100,000 (95% CI, 4.6-4.8), whereas the uncorrected rate was 3.2 per 100,000 (95% CI, 3.1-3.2).”
Researchers gathered county mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics. “A correction for hysterectomy has revealed that cervical cancer mortality rates are underestimated, particularly in black women,” the researchers stated. “The highest rates are seen in the oldest black women, and public health efforts should focus on appropriate screening and adequate treatment in this population.”
“A correction for hysterectomy has revealed that cervical cancer mortality rates are underestimated, particularly in black women.”
Meanwhile, in a Feb. 1, 2017, interview on the PBS NewsHour, Jennifer Caudle, a family physician/assistant professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine who has been writing about the findings, said, “Basically, the problem is bigger and worse than we thought. And I think that it’s actually quite significant.”
To establish reasons for the disparity, Caudle stated, “…access to care, the ability to get screened early, to get screened period, the type of cancer that black women get vs. white women, and the types of treatments that are offered.”
The greatest burden
According to the NIH National Cancer Institute, “although cancer deaths have declined for both Whites and African-Americans/Blacks living in the United States, African-Americans/Blacks continue to suffer the greatest burden for each of the most common types of cancer. For all cancers combined, the death rate is 25% higher for African-Americans/Blacks than for Whites.”
A table on the NCI website showed 504.1 cancer incidences and 238.8 deaths per 100,000 African-American men and women compared with 470.1 incidences and 192.7 deaths for all races.
According to the NIH, “persistent infection with certain strains of the human papillomavirus is the major cause of most cases of cervical cancer.”
The HPV vaccine targets two strains of the virus associated with cervical cancer, accounting for about 70% of all cases worldwide, the website stated, and “has the potential to reduce cervical cancer-related health disparities both in the United States and around the world.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a cervical cancer fact sheet that can be printed and distributed to patients.
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